Bill Buckley — a pioneering, award-winning filmmaker with a lifelong commitment to social justice and activism — died Friday. The longtime Westporter was 89.
Buckley’s “day job” was making legal videos for a company he owned, B&B Productions. But he was best known for his more than half century of collaboration with fellow Westporter Tracy Sugarman. Their civil rights documentaries are regarded as classics — and national treasures.
In 1969, the duo — with their wives, June Sugarman and Ellie Buckley — formed Rediscovery. The mission was to honor the contributions of black men and women to American society, in areas like medicine, science, politics and the arts.
It was an “integrated” company. The films they produced with African American artists were groundbreaking, and staples of public television for many years.
A charter member of the Director’s Guild of America, Buckley helped create campaign films for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He also worked with Harry Truman on the award-winning television series “Years of Decision.”
I wish had more details of Buckley’s remarkable life. He was a humble man who has not left an internet trail worthy of his work. Suffice it to say that — with Sugarman — his work has affected countless Americans, and motivated many to work for human rights of all kinds.
Buckley’s wife Judy Hamer and family will receive visitors at their home — 2325 Meadow Ridge in Redding — today and tomorrow (Sunday and Monday, January 22 and 23), from 2 to 5 p.m.
A memorial service — filled with jazz music — will be planned in the future.
(To see a sample from Buckley’s video “The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer: Never Turn Back,” click here.)